Alex­ion is re­or­ga­niz­ing R&D, ax­ing 600-plus jobs and mov­ing HQ to Boston as ex­ecs prep deal spree

The new crew in charge of Alex­ion $ALXN is pulling up stakes from New Haven, CT and mov­ing its head­quar­ters to the big bio­phar­ma hub in Boston/Cam­bridge. And the dra­mat­ic move will come with some big lay­offs.

In a top-to-bot­tom re­vamp, Alex­ion CEO Lud­wig Hantson an­nounced plans to down­size R&D as it re­or­ga­nized the pipeline. The bio­phar­ma com­pa­ny al­so plans to shut­ter a va­ri­ety of fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing the Alex­ion Rhode Is­land man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty and “cer­tain re­gion­al and coun­try-based of­fices.” And it will spend up to $440 mil­lion in a shake­up that in­cludes lay­offs in the com­mer­cial group as well as ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices as it moves 400 jobs to Boston.

Alex­ion’s HQ is head­ed for a new of­fice build­ing un­der con­struc­tion on the South Boston wa­ter­front, where it’s tak­ing 150,000 square feet. And the Boston Busi­ness Jour­nal re­ports that it will shut­ter a lo­ca­tion it has in Lex­ing­ton, ac­quired in the $8.4 bil­lion Synage­va buy­out — now large­ly writ­ten off as a bust of epic pro­por­tions.

Paul Clan­cy

In a call with an­a­lysts Tues­day morn­ing, the CEO out­lined plans to lay off 20% of its work­force, which would ac­count for more than 600 staffers out of the 3,121 em­ployed at the com­pa­ny at the end of 2016. The re­struc­tur­ing is de­signed to free up $250 mil­lion in an­nu­al spend­ing, $100 mil­lion of which will be steered to new busi­ness de­vel­op­ment deals — an ar­ray of planned li­cens­ing pacts, part­ner­ships and bolt-on ac­qui­si­tions — as well as new tri­als for ‘1210 and oth­er ex­per­i­men­tal ther­a­pies.

“It’s core for the strat­e­gy to re­build the pipeline,” not­ed CFO Paul Clan­cy, who joined Alex­ion from Bio­gen two months ago. So you can look for­ward to a new stream of deals, most fo­cused on Phase I and Phase II as­sets ahead of proof-of-con­cept da­ta.

Alex­ion’s shares slid 1% in ear­ly trad­ing trad­ing.

Alex­ion is mov­ing fast, plan­ning to re­lo­cate 400 po­si­tions by mid-2018, while leav­ing 450 jobs in New Haven. It’s all part of a three-prong strat­e­gy that in­volves big changes in R&D, a new struc­ture for fa­cil­i­ties with more out­sourc­ing on man­u­fac­tur­ing — all play­ing out over the next 12 months.

“By stream­lin­ing our op­er­a­tions we will cre­ate a lean­er or­ga­ni­za­tion with greater fi­nan­cial flex­i­bil­i­ty that is high­ly fo­cused on de­liv­er­ing for pa­tients, grow­ing our rare dis­ease busi­ness, and both lever­ag­ing our lead­er­ship in com­ple­ment and pur­su­ing dis­ci­plined busi­ness de­vel­op­ment to ex­pand the pipeline,” said Hantson. “These types of changes are dif­fi­cult and we rec­og­nize that they have a per­son­al im­pact on peo­ple who have been ded­i­cat­ed to the mis­sion of Alex­ion.”

Hantson took over as CEO at Alex­ion af­ter a probe in the com­pa­ny’s mar­ket­ing prac­tices led to the quick ex­it of two top ex­ecs. He fol­lowed up by re­vamp­ing the ex­ec­u­tive team and an­nounc­ing a pipeline do-over, drop­ping ALXN1101 (cPMP re­place­ment ther­a­py) and ALXN6000 (samal­izum­ab), look­ing for buy­ers to pick these ther­a­pies up. The biotech al­so punt­ed an am­bi­tious ef­fort on a range of pre­clin­i­cal pacts with Mod­er­na, Blue­print and Ar­bu­tus.

Alex­ion faces a se­ri­ous chal­lenge, re­ly­ing for the bulk of its rev­enue on Soliris, one of the world’s most ex­pen­sive ther­a­pies, with a weak pipeline to back it up in of­fer­ing new drugs when its patents start to ex­pire.

In the makeover at Alex­ion, Hantson ev­i­dent­ly wants to re­turn to Boston/Cam­bridge, where he based the spin­off Bax­al­ta be­fore Shire bought it out.

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BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

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Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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UP­DAT­ED: Pan­el of neu­ro­science ex­perts lays out the com­pli­ca­tions with us­ing Bio­gen's new Alzheimer's drug

Treatment of early Alzheimer’s patients with Biogen’s new drug Aduhelm should closely resemble how the drug was studied in its pivotal clinical trials, according to new recommendations from a panel of neuroscience experts led by UNLV’s Jeffrey Cummings.

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J&J’s Rem­i­cade — the poster child for how to block biosim­i­lars — fi­nal­ly set­tles Pfiz­er suit

Biosimilars have proven time and again (although mostly in Europe) that competition works to bring down the cost of a once-pricey biologic, and can even expand its use.

J&J’s Remicade, however, has always proven to be an outlier.

Back in 2016, Pfizer won FDA approval for its infliximab biosimilar, known as Inflectra, but when the launch foundered, the company sued J&J, claiming that the company’s plan to block biosimilar competition worked incredibly well. Pfizer even went on to win FDA approval for a second infliximab biosimilar in 2017, known as Ixifi, but decided to never launch it.

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